By Dave Russell
Jamie Bader and her husband, Ryan, have ridden out Category 5 hurricanes in Cape Coral, Florida. No problem, she said.
Then they moved to the mountains and a tropical storm destroyed their rental home.
An oak tree last Thursday at about 8:40 a.m. crashed into the roof of the home the Baders share with their seven children as Tropical Storm Zeta blew through the region. The eye of the storm crossed U.S. 74/441 between Wilmot and Gateway after making landfall in Cocodrie, Louisiana as a Category 3 hurricane Wednesday night.
Six of the Baders’ children were in the house when the tree fell.
The parents had just left when 18-year-old Austin called.
“He was screaming that the house had collapsed on them,” Jamie Bader said. “He said ‘Mom, the roof just caved in and I think a tree fell on us.’ Then the roof started collapsing through the whole house and he grabbed all the kids and got them out into the add-on part of the house.”
No one was injured.
“Luckily, the kids were all in the living room, otherwise they would have been in their rooms and my 11-year-old daughter’s room caved completely in and it would have killed her,” Bader said.
Emergency crews from the Sylva fire and police departments, Jackson County Emergency Management and Fire Marshal Michael Forbis arrived and put yellow tape around the house.
They deemed it too unsafe to go inside to retrieve anything, she said.
“We understood,” she said. “From when it first happened to when we went back out there to talk to the news people, it had already collapsed even more. Michael (Forbis) said it was going to collapse even more and we could not take the risk of going in and out.”
The family did not have insurance.
“We just moved in seven weeks ago and found out we are expecting and we’d put in for quotes for renters insurance,” Bader said. “We felt we were not in an area where we needed to worry too much.”
The couple had remodeled the interior of the home “from top to bottom,” upon moving in, she said.
The Red Cross assigned a caseworker and helped the family for two days with a hotel stay and some money, Bader said.
“Clothing is a big thing we need, food that can be prepared and eaten in a hotel room – we can’t cook anything,” she said. “We’ve had some people offering things like kitchen tables but we don’t have anywhere to store anything right now.”
The family is back at square one.
“The landlord has made it clear there is no chance of us moving back into that house, so it’s finding a new home and starting everything all over,” she said.
The family might be able to retrieve a few things, but it has continued to rain into the home.
“Everything is wet and getting moldy, though,” Bader said.
The owner of the home is Jonathan Chapman of Clearwater, Florida, according to Jackson County tax records.
A GoFundMe page set up for the family states, “All of our furniture and everything we had is destroyed. ... Our kids are an absolute mess. We moved here just barely 2 months ago, and now in a world of hurt. On top of being pregnant with a very high risk pregnancy. We are begging for any help. And as many possible prayers please.”
Everything is a loss.
“Right now it looks like the only thing we know is salvageable is kitchen stuff as in plates, pots, pans etc. Our washer, dryer, all our boxes of Christmas stuff and memories are destroyed,” it states.
The GoFundMe page can be found by clicking to gofundme.com and searching on “Hurricane Disaster family of 10 lost all.”
Anyone wishing to donate items such as clothing should email Bader at firstname.lastname@example.org, to arrange dropoff at the Quality Inn & Suites, Sylva, where the family is staying for the foreseeable future.